Tuesday, January 17, 2017

DOJ: Chicago police routinely violated rights



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[JURIST] The US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] reported [press release] on Friday that it found evidence supporting that the Chicago Police Department (CPD) [official website] engages in a pattern of using force, including deadly force, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The DOJ reported that CPD officers unnecessarily endanger themselves resulting in the use of unnecessary force. According to the DOJ, a lack of adequate training and accountability cause the pattern of force. Attorney General Loretta Lynch [official website] stated:
One of my highest priorities as Attorney General has been to ensure that every American enjoys police protection that is lawful, responsive, and transparent. Sadly, our thorough investigation into the CPD found that far too many residents of this proud city have not received that kind of policing. The resulting deficit in trust and accountability is not just bad for residents—it's also bad for dedicated police officers trying to do their jobs safely and effectively.
Both the city of Chicago [official website] and the DOJ have signed an agreement to work together to engage the community and create a consent decree addressing the deficiencies found during the investigation, which will be reviewed by an independent monitor.
The DOJ announced [JURIST report] last year that it would be opening a full investigation into the CPD following the release of a 2014 squad car dashboard video showing officer Jason Van Dyke shooting 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. Recently, police use of force has been a controversial issue across the US. In October three former detainees filed a lawsuit [JURIST report] against the City of Chicago and a number of Chicago police officers for alleged abuse at an "off the books" detention center. In September a Ferguson, Missouri, reform panel released a report calling for the consolidation of police departments [JURIST report] and municipal courts. Also that month Baltimore City Circuit Judge Barry Williams rejected motions [JURIST report] to drop charges against six police officers implicated in the case of Freddie Gray, a black man who was injured in police custody and later died. The American Civil Liberties Union also published a report [JURIST report] arguing that increased militarization of police forces is putting citizens at risk rather than protecting them.
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Federal lawsuit filed over Chicago police cellphone tracking system



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[JURIST] Loevy and Loevy [official website], a civil rights law firm, filed a federal lawsuit [complaint, PDF] Thursday challenging the use of a secret cellphone tracking system by the Chicago Police Department [official website]. The suit was filed on behalf of attorney Jerry Boyle, a volunteer for the National Lawyers Guild [advocacy website], who claims police intercepted information from his cellphone at a Black Lives Matter protest for Martin Luther King Jr. Day in 2015. Boyle claims that, as a result of the interception, his Fourth and First Amendment rights were violated. The tracking system in question is known as a "stingray." Stingrays are devices which, by mimicking the function of a cell tower, can be used to determine a mobile phone's location and intercept calls and text messages from both the target phone and other nearby devices.
Stringrays have received differing treatment. In November the US Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit ruled [opinion, PDF] against a criminal defendant challenging the use of a stingray by Wisconsin police to locate him without a warrant. The court concluded, "[a] person wanted on probable cause (and an arrest warrant) who is taken into custody in a public place, where he had no legitimate expectation of privacy, cannot complain about how the police learned his location." In 2014 the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts held [JURIST report] that law enforcement must obtain a warrant before using means such as stingrays to track a criminal suspects movements. In 2013 the New Jersey Supreme Court also ruled [JURIST report] that police must obtain warrants before tracking information from cell phone providers. As the dissent in the Wisconsin ruling notes, very little is known about stingrays and how they function. The dissent claims this is largely due to the government's refusal to reveal any information about the device and has, at times, dismissed cases and withdrawn evidence rather than reveal any information. All past cases concerning the use of stingray have been in a criminal context. Boyle's suit will be the first to approach stingray use through a civil claim.
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UN rights chief calls on business leaders to oppose human rights violations



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[JURIST] UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein [official profile] on Friday asked business leaders meeting in Davos at the World Economic Forum's Annual Meeting to use their influence to prevent human rights violations in countries where they operate. Zeid cited concerns over the increase in divisive politics and hatred of those who are already vulnerable to oppression in his remarks. Zeid said the current conditions of human rights and business are interrelated as efficient business requires a stable society. Praise was given to corporations who spoke out against media outlets that promoted hateful and xenophobic messages, and all leaders in attendance were asked to ensure their companies operated in keeping with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights [UN Human Rights report, PDF].
World leaders have become increasingly concerned with the potential for human rights violation in the wake of a surge in populist leaders in Europe and the US [JURIST report]. In October, the International Criminal Court expressed concern [JURIST report] over the rising occurrence of extrajudicial killings and potential human rights violations in the Philippines. In January the Obama administration expanded sanctions [JURIST report] against North Korea for alleged human rights violations including sexual violence, deliberate starvation, severe beatings, forced abortions and secret executions. Also in January, Saudi Arabia arrested two human rights advocates [JURIST report] without responding to Human Rights Watch's request to disclose the reasons for their detention.
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Randy E. Barnett on Justice and Law





"Randy E. Barnett is a lawyer and legal theorist, and a Senior Fellow of the Cato Institute and the Goldwater Institute. He also teaches constitutional law and contracts at Georgetown University Law Center.


In this lecture, given in 1991 in Aix-en-Provence, France, Barnett talks about justice, the law, and the relationship between the two. He starts by defining both terms and listing three possible relationships between the two: either there is no relationship at all between a rights-based concept of justice and the law, justice is higher than the law (or the law arises out of defined principles of justice), or justice is equal to the law and both concepts serve each other in practice. Barnett dismantles two of these possible relationships and concludes that legal orders must impart legitimacy on the law by making laws that are compatible with higher concepts of justice, but are not solely dependent on justice because the law is also reliant on convention in practice.

Download the .mp3 version of this lecture here: http://bit.ly/PruDcZ

Note: This lecture was delivered to a mostly French-speaking audience. 'Liberal' in French should be considered to translate as 'classical liberal' or 'libertarian' in modern American parlance."

Monday, January 16, 2017

Philippines president signs reproductive health measure



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[JURIST] Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte [BBC profile] signed [press release] an executive order Wednesday advocating for reproductive health measures in the country. The order [text, PDF] is entitled "Attaining and Sustaining Zero Unmet Need for Modern Family Planning Through the Strict Implementation of the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health Act, Providing Funds Therefor and for Other Purposes." The aim of the act is to allow women greater access to contraceptives and other health measures, which will grant them better control over their reproductive health and family size. Durerte hopes the bill will guide families to best provide for their children. The press release mentioned hopes that the act will aid in the relief of poverty in the nation.

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UN Special Rapporteur Michel Frost will visit Mexico [UN report] for the first time to assess the safety of human rights defenders



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[JURIST] UN Special Rapporteur Michel Frost will visit Mexico [UN report] for the first time to assess the safety of human rights defenders, according to a statement Wednesday. Frost's visit will take place from January 16 to 24, during which he will visit Mexico City, Chihuahua, Guerrero, Oaxaca and the state of Mexico. "My goal is to take the pulse of Mexican rights defenders, understand their situation, hear about their challenges, and come up with concrete ideas to bolster Government's efforts," Frost said of his planned visit. He will present his preliminary findings and recommendations during a press conference that is scheduled for the end of his mission. Frost was the Director General of Amnesty International (France) [advocacy website] as well as the former UN Independent Expert on the human rights situation in Haiti. He was also the Secretary General of the first World Summit on Human Rights Defenders in 1998.
Mexico has received criticism from multiple human rights organizations for its handling of human rights abuses, as forced disappearances and military violence have come to international attention. Earlier this year in August 22 civilians were "arbitrarily executed" [JURIST report] in Michoacan. In May the UN called upon [JURIST report] Mexico to investigate human rights violations following the death of 22 people, including at least 12 summary executions. In April three UN human rights experts pleaded [JURIST report] with Mexican authorities to support human rights groups facing extreme criticism in the national media. In 2015 Human Rights Watch [advocacy website] reported [press release] that there is evidence of recent unlawful police killings in Mexico. The report suggested that police action which left eight civilians dead in the city of Apatzing├ín on January 6, and 42 civilians and one police officer dead in Tanhuato on May 22 was an "excessive use of force against unarmed civilians." That same year, the Miguel Agustin Pro human rights center [official website] in Mexico announced that there is evidence that high-ranking Mexican officers gave soldiers orders to kill criminals prior to an army mass slaying of suspected cartel members in June 2014. In 2013 the UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions, Christof Heyns [official website], urged Mexico's government [JURIST report] to better protect against human rights abuses, specifically with respect to the military's use of force against civilians.
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ACLU of Hawaii files complaint with DOJ over conditions in jails



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[JURIST] The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Hawaii [advocacy website] has filed a complaint [text, PDF] with the US Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website], stating that overcrowding in the state correctional facilities is resulting in violations of the prisoners' Eighth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The complaint, filed Friday, shows that there is overcrowding in seven out of the nine correctional centers owned and operated by Hawaii. These seven facilities are at between 121 and 203 percent of capacity in terms of head count. The overcrowding is allegedly resulting in inmates not being given adequate safe shelter, protection from harm, sanitation, food, and medical and mental health care. The ACLU argues this violates the inmates' Eighth Amendment rights by depriving them of "minimal civilized measure of life's necessities in a manner that is objectively, sufficiently serious" and "prison officials act with deliberate indifference to inmates' safety." The ACLU also contends the Fourteenth Amendment rights of the many pre-trial detainees who are also housed in these facilities are being violated as well. Instead of increasing the capacity of the facilities, ACLU of Hawaii has suggested [press release] that Hawaii instead take efforts to decrease the number of prisoners by decreasing the pre-trial detainees who are held at the facilities for not being able to pay bail, and by passing reforms that decrease the number of people in prison, as was done in Alaska, New Jersey, California, Utah and Oklahoma.
The treatment of prisoners and prison reform [JURIST podcast] has been a growing concern in the US for years. In February the California Supreme Court ruled [JURIST report] that the state governor's plan for prison overcrowding could be placed on the state ballot. In January 2015 the US Supreme Court ruled that a landmark decision banning mandatory sentences of life without parole for juveniles should apply retroactively [JURIST report]. A federal court in February 2015 approved [JURIST report] a settlement agreement between the Arizona Department of Corrections and the ACLU in a class action lawsuit over the health care system within Arizona prisons. Also in February 2015 rights group Equal Justice Under Law filed suit [JURIST report] against the cities of Ferguson and Jennings, Missouri, for their practice of jailing citizens who fail to pay debts owed to the city for minor offenses and traffic tickets. The ACLU and the ACLU of Texas released a report in 2014 exposing [JURIST report] the results of a multi-year investigation into conditions at five Criminal Alien Requirement prisons in Texas.
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Richard Ebeling: The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration









Richard Ebeling: The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration

Richard Ebeling: The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration









Richard Ebeling: The Case for Free Trade and Open Immigration

David Boaz: "Socialism vs Capitalism"





"On March 31, 2014 David Boaz presented the above speech as part of the ongoing Economic Liberty Lecture Series, a joint project of The Future of Freedom Foundation and the George Mason University Economics Society.

David Boaz is the executive vice president of the Cato Institute and has played a key role in the development of the Cato Institute and the libertarian movement. He is a provocative commentator and a leading authority on domestic issues such as education choice, drug legalization, the growth of government, and the rise of libertarianism."